Apple settles lawsuit against former employee accused of leaking trade secrets

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in General Discussion
Apple has settled its lawsuit against Simon Lancaster, a former materials lead who allegedly stole trade secrets and shared them with a journalist.

Apple Park


As part of the settlement, Lancaster will pay an undisclosed sum to Apple. He is also barred from disclosing any confidential information related to Apple without Apple's express written consent.

The settlement, spotted by The Verge was approved by a judge in early November.

Apple initially sued Lancaster in 2021, alleging that he'd sold trade secrets to an unnamed publication in exchange for favorable coverage of a startup.

Lancaster had worked with Apple for more than a decade. He used his seniority to attend meetings outside the scope of his work, where he allegedly learned about yet unreleased Apple products.

On his last day, he downloaded a "substantial number" of confidential Apple documents from Apple's corporate network onto his personal computer.

He shared a confidential document with an unnamed correspondent, which Apple refers to as "Project X."

Nine days after announcing his exit, Lancaster requested access to documents pertaining to two other projects he didn't belong to. He sent that data to the correspondent as well.

After departing Apple, Lancaster congratulated the correspondent about the success of an article that disclosed Apple secrets.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,819member
    This country has become too liberal on criminals. Such example make employees fear of no real consequences. Anyone can steal and pass sell trade secrets to someone or foreign competitors. Over decades, this is how American innovations ended up in Chinese hands. 
    edited November 2022
  • Reply 2 of 12
    wood1208 said:
    This country has become too liberal on criminals. Such example make employees fear of no real consequences. Anyone can steal and pass sell trade secrets to someone or foreign competitors. Over decades, this is how American innovations ended up in Chinese hands. 
    U.S. companies are required to turn over trade secrets to the Chinese companies they are partnered with in order to do business with China. U.S. companies should have refused to go along with this blackmail from the beginning. U.S. companies should strongly consider leaving China and build  manufacturing facilities in countries more friendly towards us.
    fred1AniMill
  • Reply 3 of 12
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,821member
    People today are just dumb.  If you’re going to play spy/secret agent/turn coat to your employer, at least use some trade craft.  Be sneaky and careful. 

    Luckily most criminals are dumb.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    Over a decade he worked at Apple! WTF! Decimate your career, and for what?! I agree jail time! He stole from his employer! 
    AniMillwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    It seems quite likely this is related to the Steve Jobs archive that is currently built. There, they might want to control/curate his story. I only hope, they not only want to control the perspective on Steve Jobs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 12
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 1,023member
    wood1208 said:
    This country has become too liberal on criminals. Such example make employees fear of no real consequences. Anyone can steal and pass sell trade secrets to someone or foreign competitors. Over decades, this is how American innovations ended up in Chinese hands. 
    if you’re going to point fingers, look no further than our leadership / white collar criminals. I mean, you have a former “president” who time and again has proven to be a grifter and the politicians that close ranks to protect him. You want to complain about being “liberal” on crime, start there. 
    jose8964muthuk_vanalingamdewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    mac_dog said:
    wood1208 said:
    This country has become too liberal on criminals. Such example make employees fear of no real consequences. Anyone can steal and pass sell trade secrets to someone or foreign competitors. Over decades, this is how American innovations ended up in Chinese hands. 
    if you’re going to point fingers, look no further than our leadership / white collar criminals. I mean, you have a former “president” who time and again has proven to be a grifter and the politicians that close ranks to protect him. You want to complain about being “liberal” on crime, start there. 
    Thank You. Unfortunately, there are millions of Americans who have no idea what you are talking about. When they hear about how people tried to overturn a free and fair election with no massive voter fraud anywhere, they somehow think that it’s political instead of being an actual threat to our democracy. It looks like a lot of election deniers are going to be winning on Tuesday who could help to overturn election results in the future.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    mSakmSak Posts: 15member
    wood1208 said:
    This country has become too liberal on criminals. Such example make employees fear of no real consequences. Anyone can steal and pass sell trade secrets to someone or foreign competitors. Over decades, this is how American innovations ended up in Chinese hands. 
    In the context of this settlement, it doesn't make sense. Both parties agreed to a settlement which means neither decided to take the issue to trial and therefore it did not become, well....a trial within the court.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    mSakmSak Posts: 15member
    Over a decade he worked at Apple! WTF! Decimate your career, and for what?! I agree jail time! He stole from his employer! 
    Well, both sides agree not to move to a trial which is what agreeing on a settlement is a result of. No trial means no possibility of jail time.

    Seems like either I'm missing something or some folks don't understand. Agreeing to a settlement means both parties are agreeing to settle the matter out of court. When a settlement cannot be reached (or when one party decides not to engage with the process of settlement), one side can take the case to court in which case it would then be trialled and the determination is made by the court of law (a judge).
    edited November 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    mSak said:
    Over a decade he worked at Apple! WTF! Decimate your career, and for what?! I agree jail time! He stole from his employer! 
    Well, both sides agree not to move to a trial which is what agreeing on a settlement is a result of. No trial means no possibility of jail time.

    Seems like either I'm missing something or some folks don't understand. Agreeing to a settlement means both parties are agreeing to settle the matter out of court. When a settlement cannot be reached (or when one party decides not to engage with the process of settlement), one side can take the case to court in which case it would then be trialled and the determination is made by the court of law (a judge).
    You’re not missing anything and the posters here probably understand. I think that they are just commenting that Apple shouldn’t settle and that the people who steal trade secrets should go to jail. Personally, I don’t get too animated over something like this where it’s basically keeping the rumor mill rolling. I’m more concerned about companies who voluntarily give away their trade secrets in order for a foreign country to gain technological advantage. They do this because it’s the only way they are allowed to build manufacturing plants but I believe we will regret doing this. By the time most companies realize it was a mistake, it will be too late.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,660member
    I'm not sure why Apple settled, but it could be because a trial may have forced them to disclose more details about the nature of what was stolen and Apple did not want any additional details leaking out.

    This case is also a reminder to Apple that they need to due a much better job with information security (InfoSec) and intellectual property (IP) protection. I know there are plenty of people on this forum who grimace and pooh-pooh my stance on never co-mingling company information of any sort on one's personal computing resources. Company's that allow or even encourage employees to store company business information or IP on employees' personal computing devices are putting their company's future at extreme risk for no good reason. The douche bag referenced in this article should never have been able to download Apple IP to his personal computer.

    Yes, it's possible that employees who are intent on screwing their employer, fellow employees, and national security will find a way around InfoSec safeguards, even the more stringent ones like disabling USB ports on computers and air gapping engineering resources from office productivity resources. But why make it so damn easy with bring your own device programs or allowing IP to land on personal computing platforms? Several commenters have posted about IP leaking out through US companies with operations in other countries, especially countries that don't respect intellectual property rights, like China. This is a very legitimate concern.

    Comprehensive InfoSec doesn't come cheap and can also impose a hit on productivity. Some of these negative factors can be mitigated within companies that do business in countries that don't respect IP rights, or where there is a vibrant and open market for stolen IP, by focusing a disproportionate amount of their InfoSec investments in their highest threat locations and then rolling out similar but perhaps less stringent programs across a wider swath of their lower threat locations over time.
    edited November 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,260member
    Both sides took the deal...

    Of course Lancaster took the deal, because it meant no trial, no change of jail time, and an NDA. Apple should have sent a message via prosecuting the thief but they didn't. Either Apple felt sorry for the poor guy who had no choice but to steal from his employer (/sarc) or Apple didn't think they had a case worth pursuing. That's usually code for a poor chance of conviction.

    I don't care about theories, stats, opinions. Lancaster serving at least 5 yrs would make be feel better. Not being sentenced to, but serving at least 5 yrs.

    watto_cobra
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